Does downsizing have an upside?

It's the best thing that's ever happened to me. That's what lots of people say a year or two after being downsized, or so I'm told. So apparently I just received good news. I'll get back to you on that.

Management Speak
: Cost-synergy objectives.

Translation: Employee layoffs.

-- This week's entry is from an IS Survivalist who doesn't want to contribute to any cost synergy objectives.

It's the best thing that's ever happened to me. That's what lots of people say a year or two after being downsized, or so I'm told. So apparently I just received good news. I'll get back to you on that.

I had one of those conversations yesterday. Disappointing first quarter. Need to keep expenses in line with revenues. Here's the severance package. Sign here if you want it.

No comment, good or bad, about my performance; no word of thanks for my efforts, either. Also, no indication of dissatisfaction. We're an at-will employer doing this by the numbers, and presumably, the lawyers figure any indication of good work and value might give departing associates grounds for legal action. Very professional; very dispassionate. It's nothing personal.

The mind goes on autopilot at times like this. Just get through it, get home, pour the bourbon, find the bright sides: no Monday morning commute; shave only when I have an appointment. My dry cleaning bills will be lower, too.

A sense of relief; I've thought for some time that I should go independent, but my knees don't bend in a way that let me kick myself in the keester.

Start planning. I've advised large corporations on strategy and tactics; I ought to be able to advise myself, don't you think? I wonder if I'll be as good at taking my advice as I am at giving it.

Perhaps I'll create a snazzy PowerPoint presentation to illustrate my advice to myself. I'm a pretty sceptical customer, after all.

I've already figured out my core approach. Like many entrepreneurs, I'm going to employ the "amoeba strategy." Amoebas, you may recall, send out pseudopods -- small fingerlike extensions of themselves -- in all directions. When one of the pseudopods encounters food, the amoeba flows the rest of itself into the pseudopod, which becomes the whole amoeba after a while.

I don't want to push the analogy too far, for any number of reasons -- not the least of which is branding. I don't want potential clients to think of me as a cell membrane filled with goo.

What pseudopods am I going to send out? Good question.

Consulting is the obvious one: helping IT organisations formulate strategy and increase their effectiveness. I also might organise a seminar for IT managers in the early stages of their careers to help them gain the skills they'll need to become CIOs and CTOs.

What else? I can step in as temporary CIO for companies that are between IT leaders. It seems logical to me, but that doesn't mean it will sound logical to a CEO in the middle of an executive search.

I guess I'll find out.

More planning: I'll have to put up a website. That will be a change -- no more development of the strategy and content while leaving the HTML to others. When starting a business, cash flow is the priority.

What to call the business? Beats me, but I'd better figure it out. Time to register a domain name, too.

And there are all the other niceties I'm used to having other people do for me, such as designing letterhead and business cards.

Dang! I'd hoped to relax for a while. I guess not. It looks like I'm going to be busier after my decruitment than before.

That's good though. I've never enjoyed watching soap operas anyway, nor does Oprah appeal to me.

The whole idea of hanging out my own shingle is intimidating. But learning how to program (in Fortran) was intimidating too. I got through that by comparing myself to the professional programmers I knew. Many didn't seem all that shrewd, so I figured if they could succeed at it, so could I.

I'll do the same thing now. I know quite a few independents who do pretty well. I flatter myself and say that I'm just as good, so I should be able to do at least as well. It's more reassurance than motivator. But reassurance is good.

I'm supposed to spend some time grieving. I might. Right now I'm not in the mood. And who knows? A recruiter could call tomorrow describing a great job at a great salary. I don't like closing off options anyway.

About this column: It will be the same column you're used to. Maybe a bit better, in fact, because I won't have to worry about conflicts with my day job.

So although this week's column was self-indulgent, next week will be business as usual. Here's the more important question to ask yourself: Will every future column be such a transparent attempt to market my services to all of you IS Survivors?

No. That would be counterproductive anyway, so don't worry. I'll be more subtle from this point forward.

Need your lawn mowed? Send Lewis an email at Lewis is an independent consultant specialising in IT strategy and effectiveness.

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